A school ground that acts as a giant sponge? Cool!

Date May 17, 2023

Imagine a school ground without concrete or asphalt. A school ground that absorbs heavy rainfall to mitigate flooding and provides shade to combat heat. A school ground that is intentionally designed to adapt to the impacts of climate change. In short, a school ground that is climate ready!

Thanks in part to an adaptation grant from Intact, that school ground exists today. A first-of-its-kind Canadian climate ready school ground was launched in October 2022 in Milton, Ontario. Created in partnership between Evergreen and the Halton District School Board, the school ground at the Irma Coulson Public School is now equipped to nurture the learning and development of 1,000 children, provide a park-like hub for the neighbouring community, and progress the important principles of climate resilience.

Doubling down on helping communities adapt to the extreme weather impacts of climate change is one of the pillars of our five-part climate strategy. Adaptation solutions, like the climate ready school ground, help us protect our communities from the immediate impacts of a changing climate.

Designing school grounds to act as sponges

This pilot program brought best practices from around the world to enhance the climate resilience of the school grounds. Previously, the school had 4.5 hectares of open space that was prone to seasonal flooding and muddy conditions in the spring and fall, and dusty hot conditions in the summer due to large areas of asphalt and compacted soil. By replacing the impermeable surfaces with vegetation, the site was transformed into a giant sponge. This design helps ensure that the school grounds can absorb 100% of the rainfall, mitigating flood risks while moderating temperatures and providing shade.

Evergreen will be using the lessons learned from this pilot project to serve as a template for other school ground transformations across the region and Canada.

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